Monday, October 29, 2007

Google and its competitors

While attending classes last year, classmates were discussing the fact that Google does not have competitors. Well, is Google a monopoly? Or rather, should we ask, is Microsoft a monopoly? Microsoft used to be a monopoly in desktop applications but Google has turned out a fearful competitor of Microsoft. Now, when search engines are concerned, Google roots itself as the "king". We wonder what were under its sleeves when Google bought over Youtube sometime ago. At that time, Youtube used to be one leading site for free online videos. But now and today, we hear of Hulu - the new kid on the block. Hulu-a JV of General Electric's NBC Universal and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.-adds shows from Sony Pictures Television and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios.

Hulu has not accumulated as much viewers traffic as Google Inc's top online video sharing service YouTube. It is not going to be a Youtube killer in terms of traffic, in the near future too. More so because it targets a different market and audience. Hulu will be the premier destination for full length shows and movies - a distinction from YouTube's offering of video clips.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A new informative site about mortgages

This is one of those one-stop mortgage website that provides relevant information on the many varied types of mortgages in the market. Whether you are a first time homeowner or mortgage applicant, this site is user-friendly, advises and guides you along the world of mortgages. First-tme buyer mortgages, re-mortgages,buy-to-let mortgages, commercial mortgages, international mortgages and bad credit mortgages - you would not have known there are more household mortgage options available than there are. In the context of banks and mortgage lenders, these information will be handy for you and you will find yourself familiarized and comfortable with professional terms the next time you converse with a professional regarding mortgage. With a mortgage guide, you will also be updated on current interest rates, and be kept aware of competitive rates so that it makes a easier decision-making process for you when you think of a mortgage application in future.

Universal adhesive that sticks to any surface

In future, you could even coat almost any object, even one made of Teflon, with microscopic patterns of metals and organic materials. I could not emphasize any more after this and this. After the common gecko which is experimented for its "bonding" ability on the wall, mussels might be the next big thing. The chemistry of protein strands that mussels use to attach themselves to nearly any type of material has helped researchers develop a new, versatile adhesive. The researchers in Northwestern University has found that under the correct condition, this protein compound forms an extremely thin polymer film on almost any type of surface applied to.

Just when there is the non-stick chewing gum that taps the hydrophilic and hydrophobic properties, this is another method for "functionalizing" materials - a universal adhesive that works on many different surfaces. A potential application might be of water filters that use tiny pellets coated with the adhesive. As water runs through a cylinder full of the pellets, the adhesive pulls harmful and "undesired" metals out of the water by binding to them. This could also be a way to print electronic circuits onto plastic flexible object.

Secured online loans

Are you thinking of purchasing a brand new car, a new house or even re-model/renovate your current house into something newer and more updated? How about a simple debt consolidation loan to pay off all outstandings and high interest credit card bills? Even simpler matters such as taking that once-in-a-lifetime round-the-word holiday or to finance a grand family wedding or special anniversary celebration?

So many questions, finance burdens and worries but you just need one answer. The answer is Magic Loans. Magic Loans provide secured Home Loans UK, Consolidation Loans and Secured Loans. This newly set up loan resource provides you with the relevant information that you need for loan application.

Using technology success in Japan on Taiwan's high speed rail

We were quite amazed by the quality and speed of the High Speed Rail (HSR) in Taiwan. Each HSR train rolls out twelve cars, reaching speeds of 300 kph / 186 mph. Though there is controversy that this Taiwan HSR is a white elephant (there is no need to build such an expensive construction since Taiwan north-to-south is not that far apart afterfall), this HSR has certainly shortened our travel time from Taichung to Hsinchu by more than 50%! It would have taken us about 1hr to drive.

Cars for the HSR are based on a design used by Japan’s Super Express HSR, modified to fit Taiwan’s topography and environment. Originally, a European rail technology was considered. However, Shinkansen, which operates Japan’s world-famous bullet train service, formed a Taiwan Shinkansen KK to get the work done. Cars are soundproofed and every train is equipped with handicapped accessible seats and washrooms. Every car displays real-time travel information such as time to next destination and current speed. This train requires not just one single front–end locomotive but twelve cars in the train provide power. This multi–engine system not only raises maximum speeds, but also allows for greater space in the typically "locomotive" cars.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

How plumbers run a successful business

We have known that plumbers are one of the better paying jobs in the UK. While in Asia, we always talk about lawyers and doctors earning high income vs the so called lowly paying jobs such as plumbers, this is so different in UK. Plumbers are in high demand in UK and Avand.co.uk was set-up as a plumbing training company - a company that has gone UK-wide with centres all over the UK. Now, many qualified plumbers are even comfortable to start and have their own business. Since then, Avand has expanded their business into sales training and has molded many more qualified plumbers with sales skills that are imperative to run a successful business.

Smart and super-strong materials

The world of material science and technology is fascinating. While we talk about improving technologies of materials to better the efficiencies of alternative energies for adoption, there is also the arena of smart fabrics we talk about. Hi-tech "smart" fabrics that conduct electricity and probably lead to the development of clothes that shimmer, light up, or even generate moving image.

Developing or manufacturing a form of carbon fibre with properties - several times stronger, tougher and stiffer than fibres currently used to make protective armour, and potentially, an application in military usage such as bullet-proof vests. Another up and coming area is the area of biomimetics where simulation of nature's properties are found in materials. For example, the recent development of adhesive tape material that is found in gecko's adhesive feet; or the hydrophobic nature of lotus leaves that are finding its way into water-proof fabrics and materials.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Oak Bed collection - sleep tight, sleep comfy

We have always insisted on wooden beds for our bedrooms. We thought wooden beds gave the room a better cozy look and feel. While looking at the Oak Beds collection, I was particularly attracted to this solid oak 'Meldord' - a generously proportioned bed with elegance. With that open window top, how inspiring it will be to wake up on this bed and get refreshed and challenged for the day. Time4sleep is launching a new oak bed collection in addition to their current leather beds range; and they are already doing very well in other wooden beds and even children beds.

Is it time to sleep now? Well, sleep tight in one of these most comfortable beds.

Energy and high-tech

I've written earlier about energy crops and technologies used to develop them. Biomass (bioenergy), solar, wind...we need better efficiency in order to make them happen, and make them happen soon.

Materials technology is one area that has been looked into for development of alternative energy, or more accurately, efficient alternatives energy. For example, if silicon can be made a few microns thick for light-trapping techniques and if scalability becomes very promising, the price will possibility plunge. Even a semiconductor company such as Applied Materials has started out making thin-films for infrared coatings on windows.

Energy will become increasingly high-tech, generation and use. Capital should also be invested to power engineering, such as DC conversion and transmission technologies - related to effeciencies. There are also longer-term things like fusion or nuclear fuel recycling, carbon sequestration - especially after combustion in coal plants. Don't overlook these - there are just so much happening in technology of energies.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Adelaide and Brisbane - places to visit in Australia

Australia is one place we like to visit, and revisit. We have been to Tasmania and Melbourne; while still waiting to accomplish Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide some day. I remember Adelaide rated as one of the most beautiful and livable cities in Australia. There are just so much to do in Adelaide - immerse in their culture and arts, visiting wineries, recharge along Murray River and many more. A few days are just not enough. Now, we need to go through this list of Adelaide Hotels and find somewhere that is reasonably-priced and convenient to most major attractions.

Oh yes, and also Brisbane - the sunshine state, surfer's paradise. We can make it worth in one trip by visiting Adelaide and Brisbane all in a same trip. The theme parks are famous, so we are going to do that in Brisbane. The pure white sand along Sunshine coast and Gold coast - we are going to stroll along these beaches.

Am I dreaming? It might be a dream to be in these places now but with the ease of booking Hotels in Adelaide and the convenience of making reservations for Brisbane Accommodation, we are sure this dream will turn to reality, real quick and real soon

Going virtual - a different game experience

We just came back from Reno. Reno is not just a gambling city. Similar to Las Vegas, there are loads of entertainment shows and adventures in the surroundings as well. Of course, how can we miss out on sinful buffets. OK, if your sole purpose is just to strike it big in casinos, then you don't really have to travel that far and head towards a state like Nevada when you are in other parts of the country or even in the other continent.

Although the idea of online casino is not new to me, I did not know so many existed. How did I know? Just look at Pro360. There are thousands of online casinos around while Pro360 has filtered through the thousands online casinos and bring you the best of the hundreds. Online casinos offer a different game experience, and bonuses compared to on-site casinos. Well, at least when you are staying in a state or country that does not legalize gambling, you are not totally stripped of the fun. Or at least, there is no need to travel far to another so-called casino destination "on earth", since casino can be now virtual.

Start browsing for some fun!

Monday, October 22, 2007

LCOS - something of the past

Everyone know what is a LCD or at least what LCD stands for. But how about LCOS ? Do you know what is LCOS? LCD means Liquid Crystal Displays while LCOS means Liquid Crystal on Silicon. LCOS was touted as the the chip that was going to kill DLP technology from Texas Instruments. LCOS uses reflective technology similar to DLP projectors anduses liquid crystals instead of individual mirrors (of DLP). LCOS technology can produce much higher resolution images using highly advanced silicon technology than liquid crystal display and plasma display technologies, but I guess design problems, and high cost manufacturing have spelled trouble for LCOS technology. Intel has withdrawn from LCOS, and recently Syntax-Brillian. Management has finally done the sums and and decided the revenue potential did not outweigh the risk and investments needed to be successful.

LCOS will be a thing of the past in future, or even soon.

Read real reviews of products you are interested in

I ask "What is the average number of hair lost in a day?" Some said ~100 strands are normal while I heard that ~500 is not a surprising and shocking number. While I don't suffer from hair loss at this time, I'm worried I will in the future. Age and nutrition matters in hair maintenance. Well, prevention is better than cure. By the way, have you heard of Provillus? The hair loss product that helps seed the scalp to create the environment for new, healthy hair growth and restore new life to damaged hair. As there are so many hair loss products marketed on the net and in stores, it is always good to have a common source of information like TrustSource that you can go to, and which can help you make better choices. At TrustSource, I hear real people making real reviews and rating products. TrustSource includes a rating of the most popular hair loss products such as Provillus, with reviews from people and from the people who have used them. To see the reviews of any product, simply click on the "Read Reviews" linked to each product.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Knowing the importance of insurance

I began to realize the importance of insurance while I was traveling and a train delay totally disrupted my travel schedule. I had to stay an additional night in Paris and being a tourist, a newbie to Paris, and have not allowed flexibility in my travel dates, I had trouble catching the next train back to London, and importantly "where am I going to stay". I dialed for help - a travel insurance agent number. Thank goodness I bought a travel insurance then. Professionally, the travel insurance agent reserved a decent hotel stay for the additional night I needed and I could make claims on these additional expenses that I incurred due to the delay. Yes, if travel insurance is important, then I would say insurance is definitely more important for bigger items in life such as car insurance and home insurance. I find websites that allows you to compare car insurance or compare home insurance based on different insurance criteria or adds-on, very useful for the consumers. Usually this comparison sites allow you to estimate the kind of premiums you need to fork out based on your specific requirements. It makes decisions easier at a later stage when you decided which insurance policy to take.

Using mobile phone on the plane

Yes. This might be happening. You will not be asked to switch off your mobile phones when you are on the plane next time. Is that good news to you? It does not affect me that much since I am not on my mobile that often, even to text-message.

But for travelers who need to make urgent calls especially to cancel business meetings or to establish timely important contacts, this might be good news. A lower-power base station, that communicates with passengers' own handsets, will be installed on an airplane The base station will then route phone traffic to a satellite which is connected to mobile networks on the ground. Naturally, expect higher phone call rates in the air compared to the ground, and calls will be billed through passengers' mobile networks just like how billings are done on ground.

How do you choose or use your credit cards ?

My basic criteria when choosing credit cards - it has to have the lowest (compared to other competitors) or even no annual fee; has a good reward points system for established merchants (so that I can get cash-back and discounts); and issued by an established bank (that has secured, anti-theft features system set up for the card). Well, if you ask me if you should own just one credit cards or many, I would say, it depends. If your credit card are one of those rewards credit cards that are frequent-flyer cards at the same time and allows mileage accrual on the same card while you spent; or credit cards tied to specific merchants that earns you points - equivalent or even up to triple - when you buy from the specific merchants and finally using those points to redeem the same merchants' products, more cards are indeed better than one. Of course, all these depends on your needs, for example if you are a heavy shopper rather than a frequent-flyer, or vice-versa. Till now, I do not have balance transfers issues when it comes to credit cards. But I know that if I need to, I must find the best that allows 0% balance transfers.



Wednesday, October 17, 2007

High performance relationships as powerful drivers for organizational performance

While you read about the challenges of talent management in organizations these days, while I've also written about it here and here, I do still want to share some key insights on Southwest Airlines. It's turnover rate is one of the lowest among other US airlines though its pay and compensation package is not the most competitive.Behind the success factors of Southwest Airlines, these words "High performance relationships" kept popping out.

It's not just any relationships as relationships are not just “nice to have”. If invested consistently in the long term, this can be powerful drivers for organizational performance. And it is the ability to build and sustain relationship characterized by shared goals, shared knowledge, mutual respect that make Southwest Airlines such a successful corporation.

Advanced staffing tools allows easy and focused recruiting

Trovix Recruit is a full-featured multi-functioned applicant tracking system (ATS) that is a perfect human resource and staffing tool that companies could use to effectively manage their recruiting process. ATS is easy to use, enables collaborative work flow, allows feedback and alerts, and even schedules interviews. That's just some of the many other features of this applicant tracking system. This system also allows easy identification of the best qualified candidates through resume capture, extraction, job matching and a comprehensive applicant tracking functionality; and is indeed a integrated platform with intelligent search technology built-in for usage by human resource professionals, staffing managers and recruiters.

No-stick chewing gum with science and technology

With Revolymer(TM) non- stick chewing gum, Singapore may considering lifting its famous ban on chewing gum. Well, that's just my own wishful thinking.

But again, this demonstrates how science and technology can improvise on products. While it has been common in polymer science in recent years to combine both hydrophobic ("oil-liking") and hydrophilic("water-liking") properties and bringing about improved properties in coatings e.g. in self-cleaning glass; it is relatively new in the consumer food world. The Revolymer gum base uses polymers with a hydrophobic-part(internal, inside) wrapped in a hydrophilic, or water-attracting-part (external, outside). Now, when the gum sticks to a surface, a film of water can form around the hydrophilic surface and be easily cleaned with water. That's almost a similar concept as self-cleaning glass.

However, it should not be called non-stick since it WILL stick, just that it's easier to clean off. So, it should be re-termed easy-clean chewing gum or less-maintenance chewing gum, in my opinion.

Do I need to go on a diet?

The part I'm most conscious about when I feel I'm putting on weight, is my belly. A bugling belly means I cannot fit well into those jeans. Even if I do, a bulging belly in jeans just don't look perfect. While I read about Akavar 20 50, I found that this supplement helps to pull out excess fat from the waist and hips - all near the belly. Akavar 20 50 restricts the daily caloric intake and leaves you with a thinner and trimmer body. Of course, I hope I don't need these supplements anytime now and in the future; but I'm just so worried, especially at the rate of how I consume food. This is no one-formula-fits-all but in a test done, the majority (about than 80%) who took this formula lost a substantial amount of weight without diet rebound. If you want more information, Akavar 20 50 will be featured in a nationwide print advertising campaign in Parade Magazine. Do look out for it and read about it.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Technology that allows you "hands-free" in toilets

I take my hats off the Japanese. They are always the first to come up with innovative (sometimes to the point of being weird) technologies. While I was working back in a tech firm, our boss told us we should always look to the Shibuya girls in Japan if we are looking into next generation cellphone technology, because these girls are actually the ones who will test the newest phone, functions and features.

Lo and behold! I wonder who test the technologies on toilets. A $3700 self-cleaning toilet or rather just a toilet bowl where the seat on the toilet rises automatically when a user enters the room. Then you can "do your business" in the toilet to the soothing tune of classical music. Of course, if you prefer country music or rock-pop instead, you can plug in a player at the side. Thanks to advanced sensing technologies - you have the option to go "hands-free" in toilets and upkeep a higher standard in hygiene!

Online shopping has never been easier

I admit. I have a weak spot for bags and shoes. And...I like to look for bargains. Well, I'm a female after all. EdealFinder.com is a coupon and online discount site that you can find many hot deals including shoes. Voted as one of the best online shoe sites in many well-acclaimed consumer magazines, Zappos has a 365-Day Return Policy that makes buying shoes online such convenient and easy shopping. With Zappos coupons and discounts, I'm assured FREE shipping both ways(including "Return", if required) on shoes. How flexible can it get with Zappos coupons here.

Updated Singapore map with Google maps

Singapore now has an updated map with Google. Google's technology in Google Maps has pampered us heavily. We used Google Maps to plan our route trips in the United States. Route trips include checking distances, finding businesses near a specific landmark, using the hybrid function to catch a glimpse of the surrounding area.

Just last week, while I was checking the surroundings area in Singapore Google Map, I noticed many new developments - golf course, new roads going on in Marina Area. Yep, map proven updated since these are the new developments going on in Singapore. I hope the map technology/function will get better in Singapore so that this will help to move around when I return.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Extended mobility with your laptop

A portable scanner is something that I have always wanted especially when I am traveling or on-the-road for business. I am not really for a fax machine since it typically needs a telephone line. Inconvenient. In addition, I'm doing less and less of photocopying since there is no physical storage and space for piles of paper. Scanner is indeed a heaven-sent invention and technology. What if someone wants me to fax a document over ? I will usually just scan using a scanner and email that document over as an attachment. What if I need to replicate an important document such as a medical examination report for keeps? I will also use the scanner, make a copy, save a soft-copy in my computer, and backup the same copy in a compact disc.

Now that I have a laptop and on the move sometimes, a portable scanner is just in need for extended mobility. It is lightweight and uses a USB connection that just "plugs-and-works" with the laptop. With a resolution of 600 dpi and color function, the documents output will indeed be of high resolution and quality. With one of the latest and newest digital-imaging technology, ScanShell 2000NR portable scanner is definitely a must-get. Wait! It can be a clever holiday gift too.

Cellphone technology and tourism

Remember your last time to the museum, hanging that audio/video over your neck with untidy wires dangling all over you? My hubby was telling me sometime ago that wireless technology that connects to our cellphone can do the trick and substitute bulky outdated audio/video. It's really time for a change and implement the technology. Next time, when you are near an exhibit, you can instantly hear a brief introduction of the exhibit via your cellphone. Just few days ago, I read that Turkey will initiate the world's first tourist guide service via cellphones. The authorities are collaborating with Turkey's three major cellphone operators to transfer tourist information such as Turkish music, historic buildings and museums into mobile phones.

We are another step closer to finding technology impacts on the tourism industry.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Mortgage Refinancing Tips

So much has been happening and changing to home mortgage these days such that a one-stop mortgage financial services resource site which provides updated competitive mortgage rate quotes, offers mortgage financial calculators that guide you, and allows access to personal mortgage experts who tailor your mortgage solutions, is timely. If you find yourself paying unreasonable mortgage rates, it's time to think about and consider mortgage refinancing.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Smart parking technologies - for idiots like me

As the saying goes "when there is a demand, there is a supply"...so for parking idiots like myself, the invention of rear parking sensors in vehicles is indeed a blessing. When the rear or the bumper of the car is almost near the wall (for reverse parking), the sensor starts to beep and you know you have to stop reversing. With rear sensors to detect close proximity of objects, there is even the rear view mirror with integrated wireless LED distance display. That is good if there is a low curb and no high barrier wall for the sensors to be in effect for proximity, and for beeping you. You can actually judge the distance from the rear view mirror.

And it must be nightmarish to find a parking lot or space in high-density cities such as Singapore. Within the public parking garages, there are individual parking lots that hide a sensor at the ceiling-overhead of each lot. This sensing detects whether a vehicle is parked at the lot and sends a signal back to central sensing system which then signals entering vehicles into the parking garage to empty parking spaces. Cool, isn't it?

Calling made easy - that's the power of technology

Technology has enabled good quality and cheap Internet Phone service using VoIP Phone. The world has indeed become flatter when you can call and connect to families, friends, and even business associates with a instant high quality call made using iConnectHere. Currently, a $30 Bonus is offered for all new sign-ups. With a full feature package, it includes call waiting, caller id, call forwarding and emergency 911.

Make solar panels inexpensive to manufacture - where technology should go

Speaking about putting excess cash to good use ? Why not be like Google and do it with a worthy cause ? Errr...well...I know, not many companies have excess cash (like Google) nowadays. But I would still like to highlight the solar energy project in Google as a pursuit and interest in alternative energy and technology impact.















For example, for the last 24 hours today, 3398 KW-hours of energy were generated and this (based on estimation) is equivalent to 2000 + dishwasher cycles.

Solar panels are still relatively expensive to manufacture, thus not readily adopted by the masses. MNCs taking a lead role in proving solar energy, may encourage more companies to think of creative ways to use solar energy in future.

Importance of trademarks when it comes to business

Do you find this logo familiar ? This logo is used by Music Choice, UK. I am not familiar with Music Choice but I am not new to the logo - of centric circles. Don't you find the logo so similar to Target ? Target’s three-circle red and white bulls-eye logo, in use since 1968, is one of the most widely recognized corporate logos in the US.

A trademark is a type of intellectual property, and typically comprises a name, word, phrase, logo, symbol, design, image, or a combination of these elements. A brief on trademarks - registrations of trademark, granted prior to November 16, 1989 have a 20-year term. Registrations granted on or after November 16, 1989 have a 10-year term. Trademarks can be renewed for an additional 10-year term. Unlike patents that have a 20-year term and need not be "proven" unless challenged, trademarks(registered or unregistered) rights must be maintained through actual use of the trademark. The rights will diminish over time if a mark is not actively used.

For the recent case in Target that has lost the case to Music Choice in fighting for ownership of the trademark logo, UK’s Intellectual Property Office has claimed that Music Choice registered the bulls-eye trademark in 2001, and was the legal owner of the logo and had exclusive rights to it. Trademarks, especially unregistered marks do have geographical limitations. Thus, although Target has used this logo since 1968(mostly in the US) - first, we should find out if it's registered; then if it is or not, where(geographic) it is registered. This might be the likelihood why the owner of the registered trademark (Music Choice UK, in this case) started legal proceedings for trademark infringement to prevent unauthorized use of that trademark against Target in UK.

Reading starts from young

Recently, I saw my friend buying books and toys with phonics function for her kid. I asked why and she told me it's to start off her kid early, in reading skills development. I told her to check out the reading tutors in Score so that her kid can begin learning in a fun and enjoyable environment and pick up the correct reading skills.

Monday, October 08, 2007

OLED TV - TV using organic light emitting diodes

So, how about that wafer-razor-thin 11-inch, 3mm-thick OLED TV that Sony recently announced ? This TV will be in the Japan market coming December 2007. Not sure if such TV will ever make a global launch, and most importantly, with impact.

Maybe...for those first-time owners who are switching from the traditional CRT flat-screen, they might want to try an OLED. However, for LCD-owners, I am wondering what will be the push or pull factors for them to change to a OLED. Currently, OLED is expensive to manufacture. Therefore, it will take a long time to even talk about price erosion of OLED TV in the market.

I salute Sony for taking big bold steps in launching these products. If the product really wins, indeed Sony will capture a good proportion of market share. However, in the arena where there are so many options right now, it's really difficult to shine unless it is really one-of-a-kind product.

Electronic mortgage - using technology to revolutionize traditional business process

Developments in software and product technology have improved productivity and efficiency in the workplace which are frequently flooded with paperwork. And imagine, you even have to waste prime physical spaces in the office to store and organize those paper files. Electronic mortgage is definitely one of those advanced services out there that saves precious time of borrowers and lenders. Electronically, you can create a loan package ready for web-based signature; and manage and monitor the status of online signing and delivery of loan documents.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Technology in energy crops development

Ceres develops a variety of high-yield energy crops and biomass products as better efficient fuel sources based on its technology innovation and development in genomics (discovering genes functions, and identifying their potential use); composition(studying crop composition and metabolism to improve yields and facilitate breeding and biotechnology); breeding (using molecular biology and information systems to identify critical genetic sequences and speed product developement); biotechnology (using tools to "modify and control" plant traits precisely when traditional planting methods does not work as effectively).

With key technologies and financial investment to sustain development in product pipelines(link) for their target market, it will be exciting to know the impact on biofuels in years to come.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Basic laptop or most complicated cellphone

While the simplification of the multi-function cellphone to a simple basic product/service like Jitterbug cater for a niche market (eg seniors, emergency calling), the $100 laptop is yet another simplified product for a niche market and for a great cause too.

Let's step back and ponder. Not only the $100 laptop(see picture on what makes the $100 laptop, courtesy from BBC) can make a change in the developing world, it may also trigger big changes in the wider hi-tech industry.

Widespread wireless networks and lifestyle changes make us dependent on our mobile gadgets - we want to get to our stuff anywhere and anytime! This has encroached into the cellphone market - thus the rise of smartphones which are starting to eat into the potential laptop sales. Suddenly, I see the cellphone as "the smallest laptop" and I see the $100 laptop as "an extended cellphone". :O

Convergence or divergence? Vertical segments in portable devices are bound to stay.

Gifts for the holiday season

My holiday stocking is already hanging out there. It's a gigantic stocking this year since my wish list has some bigger items. Top on the list, I want that Slingbox Media AV I've been eyeing for so long (yes...since last year) and I know that online store Buy.com is carrying this item at a really competitive price. Prices for some electronics items have dropped since last year and I am buying the Slingbox this year. With Buy.com coupon codes, I'm going to save more money on top of the already-reduced price. I'm happy. It's the holiday season. How about surprising someone special with a vacation of the year? Or just pamper yourself with a getaway trip. There are Orbitz deals which make a good travel gift of the season.

There are so many other online coupons in Couponchief. Instead of hearing me on what I want, it only makes sense for you to check out their website for all the merchant listings and the coupons/discounts being offered, in order to find what you want. Happy holiday shopping!

More about energy crops

What sparks me to find out more about Ceres is because of the recent $75mil funding received by Ceres for development into energy crops. They are more crops to know about other than sorghum. Their energy crops products also include Miscanthus and Energycane (the non-sugar production-type sugarcane).

Miscanthus is being improved to produce high yields of biomass since it will be impractical to plant low-yield grass and waste prime real-estate. The high-yielding can be multiplied by underground stems called rhizomes. Plants can grow 12 feet or higher, have a long harvest window and require little or no fertilizer or weed control, if developed successfully.

Ever heard of the sugarcane that are selected for biomass rather than sugar production? These are known as energycane, reproduced through cuttings transplants and not through seed.

Learning Math the right way

I have enjoyed Math as a subject ever since I was young and I believe there is a reason to this. My Dad used to teach me Math and emphasized a lot on basic Math concepts. If not for him, I might have lost interest in Math among a huge class of 40 students in primary school. A conducive Math learning environment in Score with Math Tutors dedicated to guiding the basic Math foundations is critical in a child's early learning development stage.

Digital ebook

I saw the Sony ebook in two locations - one in FRYS electronics store and one in Borders book store. At these two locations, I have never seen anyone head over heels on that Sony ebook. In my opinion, I don't think the ebook has made any impact on consumers yet.

First, form factor. Second, design. Third, function. Even when the Sony Reader recently upgraded to a newer version that includes a faster E-Ink refresh rate, brighter white state and 8-tone greyscale rather than the 4-tone of the earlier model, I still don't think it will hit the masses.

Like what I said earlier, digital ebooks is just an alternative and never will be a substitute for paper. And to be an alternative, the price of digital ebook needs to drop further. I mean, are you ready to fork out more than $200 to buy something that you might not use all the time? I won't. But again, that maybe because I'm not that much of a techie afterall.

Win great prizes - who gets it, you get it

All my life, I have not been lucky when it comes to winning prizes in lucky draws or random draws offered by retailers. The first time I won something was when I bought TOTO (equivalent of Lotto, known in some other countries) for $5 and won $10. They called that beginner's luck. Maybe I should now try my luck at whogets.com free sweepstakes and see if I can win any great prizes such as electronics, appliances and DVDs. If you are in for the fun like me, sign up for WhoGets membership, find a prize you would like to win and enter for the contest. It's that easy.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Transformers and that cyborg surveillance insect

Reading this piece from EE Times totally reminded me of the movie Transformers. An insect cyborg with embedded microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) to run controlled reconnaissance missions in a remote, with sensors connected to security cameras, wireless transceivers, micro-flapping wings, all attached to the insect-body. Errr...can the insect turn into a radio, if it's a crawling insect? Ha! Sorry..too much Transformers. :P

But will the issue of privacy come into play in a cyborg insect? I cannot imagine an insect buzzing around me one day and it turn out to be a surveillance insect. So scary! Intrusion!

Online betting

In a few years time, there will be two casinos opening in Singapore. Oops, they should be called Integrated Resorts...not casinos. A resort-style facility with shopping, food, and of course...casinos. I wonder if the casinos go-ahead in Singapore will bring about online gambling. Well, if the casinos in Singapore have all the rules and regulations in place (eg. charging admission fees to Singaporeans only) to disallow Singaporeans entering the casinos, I'm just wondering how authorities can control online gambling if there was indeed one. Anyway, gambling is nothing new in Singapore. We have 4D and TOTO. There is even the turf club.

Thus, it is nothing new at bet365 - an online facility that provides a range of online betting services. There is an online casino, Sportsbook betting facility(including football, basketball, baseball), interactive games and a dedicated online poker playing section. Having a manageable and secured system is key, in online betting so that players can enjoy the benefits of the betting services without any confusion.

How the curriculum can breed innovation and creativity

I have written several posts about creativity and one of the classic examples of creativity/ innovation has got to be from Tony Buzan. He mentioned about how normal was it for creativity around the world to decline and in the process, cleverly highlighted that "normal" is "not natural". Yes, you can breed innovation and creativity in your children's curriculum to make sure they remain creative and keep an open mindset about innovation when they grow up. What's better than putting your kids' key learning years in the hands of Score Learning centers? Engaging an innovative tutor is important to ensure your kids learn and grow up in an environment that does not stifle creativity and innovation.

Singing to release stress

Did you watch the CBS News channel this morning? Or maybe other channels? I can tell you what I was doing. Turned on my computer and checked emails from various accounts, then checked my blog for comments and responded to comments. That was done before breakfast! I need to kick this bad habit and should remind myself to eat my breakfast first before starting off my day in front of the computer.

While surfing the net...I heard this overture


OMG! This is funny! To all the mums, mummies, moms, mommy, mothers out there, will this let off some of your steam? It's always good to let off some steam once in a while. Scientifically, releasing pressure occasionally will prevent pressure built-up and avoid an explosion.

Enjoy and laugh.

Zuujit Mobile - register and win HTC smart phone

This is so coincidental! Few days ago, I was just blogging about HTC - High Tech Computer, the company and their smart-phone products and now I read that Zuujit Mobile Beta is looking for beta testers and giving away HTC TyTN II. WOW! If you are reading this post, take action now. Contest starts today and Zuujit Mobile is giving away HTC TyTN II on November 15 to one of their lucky beta testers.

Zuujit Mobile is a to-have if you are running a small online eBay business or has lots of activities going on at eBay. It turns your smartphone into a all-in-one eBay and inventory listing tool for easy management and organization. You are able to create and post; access bids; receive and responds all your eBay activities. Compatible with most Windows Mobile platforms such as Professional Edition, Smartphone Edition and even the Palm Treo Edition, I'm sure Zuujit will work it out in your mobile.

Energy crop - Sorghum

These plants are not designed to produce grain, but amounts of biomass. Sorghum is potentially the raw material for a new generation of biofuels made from stems, stalks and leaves. Typically, there are other types of sorghum that maximize grain yields.

But this high-biomass sorghum variety being studied by Ceres and Texas A&M, will be specifically for use as a feedstock for cellulosic biofuels.

You can read more about Cere's Sorghum. Very interesting.

Garage usage for storage and entertainment

I do not have a garage currently but always wish for one since my primary purpose is to use it as a storage for some of the household goods that are bulky and unsightly when placed inside the living room. CarGuyGarage.com has all the garages you are looking for to store your stuff such as vacuum cleaners, bicycles, work-benches, gardening tools, lawn-mowers etc. Of course, if you have already enough storage space in your house, you can always convert the garage space into a karaoke room to hang out with your buddies. That is what I would do if I had other storage spaces.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

HTC - High Tech Computer is growing fast

Okie, I admit I have belittled HTC- High Tech Computer somewhat in its product branding. Really, do not undermine this company that is touted as the Dell of mobile phones. Currently, HTC has a 1mil handset contract with Sony Ericsson, and has entered into a strategic alliance with Qualcomm. HTC was also recently ranked #2 in Asia BusinessWeek50 after #1 spot-Unilever Indonesia.

Just yesterday, HTC came out in the news again with speculations and gossips that they might be behind Google's mobile phone strategy. Woo hoo....I wish more can be unveiled. I will be excited to see some new competition in the cell phone market! :)

Diamond plate cabinets - suited for the external compounds in your house

These diamond plate cabinets from Carguygarage.com really shimmer the room bright and new. Made from aluminum, these diamond plate cabinets will not rust or corrode. They will definitely be a good new addition in the garage or any corner in the house compounds that are usually exposed to the sun, rain and winds.

More about retaining employees

I have seen real examples of how MNCs eagerly and excitedly look outwards for middle managers and executives and neglected the source of talents WITHIN the organization. WHY? Why was there no proper training given to potential talents IN the company so that these current employees could take on some middle management positions? There should be some kind of succession training/management in the company where the HR and key top management in affected divisions/departments identify a few potential inside talents within the company, and train these talents to "succeed" some of the management positions. Some of the employees might have spent years with the company, and know the company best in terms of culture, workflow etc. Valued employees and internal talents tend to know factors leading to business success and competitive differentiation within a company, as well. They also speak positively about the company, have no immediate intention to leave, and most of the times, willingly put in extra effort to ensure strong company performance and improve both revenue and productivity. That is surely a win-win situation and synergy for both the employer and the employee, and I ask companies to see far, be long-sighted and invest in human capital (invest in deserving ones, of course!).


Further to what I commented here, a recent report I read in the newspapers has shown that employee engagement only tend to be higher at "best employer" organizations. The positive correlation between employee engagement/retention and business success is something that more "best employers"' recognize, compared to "non-best employers". Hey, isn't it time for EVERY organization to think of this ?

International calling with Pingo

I was really unhappy to see my latest AT&T phone bill that charged me more than $10 for that few minutes of calls I made from USA to Canada while making some travel inquiries. They were charging almost like 10 cents per minute!! Daylight robbery! If I had known about the internet phone card from Pingo, I would have gone straight for Pingo call service and considered getting myself either the Global Phone Card or International Phone Cards. I just checked the Pingo rates and it's only 1.8 cents per minute to call USA to Canada. That is more than 70% savings when compared to AT&T.

Signing up for Pingo is straight-froward. Create an account with them, select the top-up amount you want for your account (eg. $10 or $20) and start using the Pingo toll-free access number to call. Pingo calls are made via the iBasis network that uses state-of-the-art technology from industry leaders such as Cisco Systems and the worldwide Internet, to provide high quality global long distance phone service and clear reliable calls.

If you are on your way to buy prepaid calling cards - long distance, international or global, get Pingo. With one of the lowest calling rates, Pingo has the best competitive rates worldwide. Moreover, what rates you see is what you pay - no hidden charges.

When you sign up and create an account now, you get perks such as $8 in FREE Calls - that is about 5 hours of free International calls and a special phone card blog discount coupon: “ppp3” valid for $3 off Pingo. Isn't that great?

HTC - High Tech Computer

Came across a product introduction in Straits Times about a HTC phone called TyTN II (errr...pronounced as Titan??) launching in Singapore soon.

With a retail price of about SGD$1300, I'm not sure if it's steep but it does has usable features such as Blackberry functions and Windows.


And you must be wondering, what is this company - HTC ? The name sounds so un-classy, IMO. Why name a product after your company name ? High Tech Computer needs to work harder on their product branding or naming to entice more consumers. If not, they need to be have a super great product to impress.

Just imagine you are holding onto a Apple MP3 player and not an iPOD. Ok, I know Palm names its PDA after its company name too but then, Palm is such a better name and you can really associate it with being mobile - a PDA on your palm, or Palm PDA. Palm has reason to.

Hmmm...but HTC? Frankly, when my hoobie told me he is wishing to get a HTC, I did not even know what he was talking about then !

Hotel Reservations - savings up to 70%

As summer comes to an end and the days get shorter, we are planning to head towards Nevada for our next short vacation. Well, at least, when the temperatures starts to cool off in most parts of the West Coast, cities such as Reno, NV or Las Vegas, NV will be keeping hold of warmer temperatures till winter. Knowing about Hotel Reservations in my past PPP review, that was the first travel website I searched, for our accommodation stays. Well, we are looking for good value deals, as always.

The destination search box at this website was right smacked at the center of the home page and made it so clear and easy for us. We typed in "Las Vegas" as the destination city, entered the intended check-in/check-out dates, and the number of adults and rooms required, and in a matter of seconds, we got all the search results. This was surely mush faster than the other established travel websites that take hell lot of time to load the search results. We always do a sort by price and this travel site allowed us to do that quite easily too. In that snap shot of the search results, we saw the average nightly room rates being offered, a short description of the hotel, and special value or internet rates were marked out clearly for the consumers. Straightaway, we knew the kind of savings we will enjoy - just want we wanted.

What are the additional perks if we stayed longer in Vegas? There is up to $100 in rebates for 12-night booking and even for 3-night (short stay) booking, there is a rebate of $20. More savings to enjoy.

We have not gone ahead making our reservations yet since we could not commit on a fixed travel date currently. However, we came across the change and cancellation policy in and were pleased with the news that no fees will be charged in an event of a change of cancellation. That is definitely something that most travel websites don't offer and that is a plus-point for since they know what the travelers really want. We want savings, value, reliability and flexibility whenever we travel and Hotel Reservations has all of them.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Retaining talent in organizations

Immeasurement, irrelevance and anonymity makes you miserable at work and in some case, makes you want to quit and leave. One company - Netflix follows a set of "rules" when it comes to retaining talent. I will just briefly mention two (below), related to monetary. Of course, instilling a good culture such as fostering talent hunters to create a fun workplace, allowing employees to have choices, and limiting rules, are some ways to make people happy in the organization.

1. Pay higher-than-average salaries: Base bonuses and increments to the market, not a team of star performers. This can suppress "stars" and individualism. Southwest Airlines is another company that cultures teamwork rather than individualism too. I will talk more about Southwest Airlines in future. However, I like the "concept" - Money is no object in hiring. :)

2. "Let them go": Don't give B performers a middling raise. Rather, allow them to leave with dignity.

You can read more here.

In some way, I think Netflix is trying to create a Southwest-similar culture in their organization.

Tattoo tells lifestories, sometimes.

Initially, I was rather fascinated by the name tattoo lovers and tattoo dating. However, not anymore after I watched a variety program on the TV yesterday in which coincidentally a young lady had a tattoo of Japanese words inscribed below her neck (above her chest area) meaning "a person of strength". She explained how the tattoo gave her more courage as someone really timid. Then I realized tattoo can be taken as another kind of lifestyle that some people may find meaning with. Tattoo may describe who they are and even have a significance behind their life stories. Tattoolovers.com is a online website for tattoo singles to mingle around and identify with someone else who also recognizes the significance of tattoo.

Monitor airfares like the stock market

This is not the typical website such as Travelocity or Expedia. Farecast informs the travel consumers of the best times to purchase travel airfares. At one glimpse, get to check out and compare side-by-side, the best travel fares offered by various air carriers and you can make the decision on which carrier to go with, based on your preference on price, and travel schedules. Modeled almost like a stock exchange market - you will know clearly the "WAIT" before making that purchase. It will save you lots of money and make airfares fluctuations more predictable for you, the consumers.

At a snapshot, you can view a comparison of airfares with various air carriers. With the search results, the navigation sidebar on the left can be used to adjust the search results by, for example, scrolling the preferred time to depart and arrive, then see how the airfare changes. Airfare prediction shows if fares are rising or dropping. Based on the prediction, Farecast provides a recommendation to buy now or buy later.

 
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